Monday, July 19, 2010

Higher Premiums, Fewer Choices, Poppa Washington

Just like Victor Frankenstein, the folks that designed Obamacare have unleashed a monster on the American public. By tinkering with a system that worked for the vast majority of people they have unleashed a fury of unrest among the great unwashed. Obamacare is finally showing its' true spirit and has morphed into Obamacrap.

In an effort to provide more affordable health insurance to the masses, and still be in compliance with Obamacrap rules, the health insurance companies are designing new plans by digging up body parts from the 90's and piecing them together in ways that will please the monarchy in Washington but will draw the ire of the torch and pitchfork crowd.

The new and improved Obamacrap plans will promote health insurance with lower premiums, but at the same time will offer a limited number of choices when it comes to doctors and hospitals.

Insurers and consultants expect that, over time, businesses of all sizes will gravitate toward these plans in an effort to cut costs.

The tradeoff, they say, is that more Americans will be asked to pay higher prices for the privilege of choosing or keeping their own doctors if they are outside the new networks.

What happened to "if you like your doctor you can keep him or her"? 

Well, that went away with the new mandates placed on health insurance companies to deliver plans with lower premiums and higher benefits.

Companies may be able to reduce their premiums by as much as 15 percent, the insurers say, by offering the more limited plans.

“What we’re seeing is a definite uptick in interest because, quite frankly, affordability is the most pressing agenda item,” said Dr. Sam Ho, the chief medical officer for UnitedHealth’s health-care plans.

There you go.

Since one of the chief complaints of health insurance was the cost the carriers have responded with lower premiums. Who wouldn't like that? 

“Back in the H.M.O. days, it was tight networks, and it did save money,” said Ken Goulet, an executive vice president at WellPoint, one of the nation’s largest private health insurers, which is experimenting with re-introducing the idea in California.

The concept was largely abandoned after the consumer backlash persuaded both employers and health plans that Americans were simply not willing to sacrifice choice.

HMO's do save money and deliver quality care. We expect to see more HMO offerings as well as PPO and POS plans with multiple reimbursement tiers. This kind of shift is already taking place in existing health insurance plans as the carriers negotiate more favorable pricing on commonly prescribed medicines. At the same time they are moving higher priced med's into higher tiers which results in a higher out of pocket when the consumer opts for more expensive medication. Many plans are also imposing a penalty when the consumer chooses a higher priced med and there is a lower cost equivalent medication available.

The new health care law offers some protection against plans offering overly restrictive networks, said Nancy-Ann DeParle, head of the office of health reform for the White House. Any plan sold in the exchanges will have to meet standards developed to make sure patients have enough choice of doctors and hospitals, she said.

That most likely will mean plans offered via the Exchange will have significantly higher premiums than those available outside the Exchange. 

So how is this hope and change thing working for you so far?

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